Alajuela Travel Guide

  • Laguna Botos in Poás National Park
    Laguna Botos in Poás National Park
    by theo1006
  • Back of the Five Colones note
    Back of the Five Colones note
    by theo1006
  • Front of the Five Colones note
    Front of the Five Colones note
    by theo1006

Alajuela Highlights

  • Pro
    BEETLE_VERTE profile photo

    BEETLE_VERTE says…

     Close to everything in the Central Valley 

  • Con
    dero123 profile photo

    dero123 says…

     Can't think of any 

  • In a nutshell
    mke1963 profile photo

    mke1963 says…

     Great base for exploring the central valley 

Alajuela Things to Do

  • Poás Volcano National Park

    Parque Nacional Volcán Poás is the easiest to visit and therefore the most popular. From Alajuela one or more tourist buses daily go the 37 km winding mountain road to the park, fare CRC 2100 both ways. They stop at a souvenir stall on the way, still there is ample time to walk the park at your leasure.From the parking a well paved road leads...

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  • Jardín Botánico Else Kienzler

    The Else Kinzler Botanical Garden belongs to an enterprise specializing in decorative plants from all over the world, Innovaplant de Costa Rica S.A. The German owner established the garden in 1998 and named it after his mother. So you enter the garden via the enterprise grounds. But then you reach a lush 7 ha garden with well-tended walkways and...

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  • Sarchí

    Another day we took the bus from Alajuela to Sarchí, fare CRC 735. The small town is famous for its handicraft, especially oxcarts, lifesize and miniature. The art of oxcart making in Sarchí is recognized by Unesco as an instance of Intangible Heritage of Humanity, together with the craft of keris making in Indonesia and bark cloth making in...

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  • Los Chorros waterfall

    At the end of a hot day it is always nice to find a waterfall. This one we found on our way back from Grecia to Alajuela, at Carrillos which is about half way between the two.There is a parking a couple of km uphill from the main road at Carrillos. Here we paid the entrance fee, USD 6 for foreigners (CRC 1500 for locals, February 2012).From the...

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  • World of Snakes

    For our first day trip from Alajuela we went by bus to Grecia. On the way there we had seen the billboard at the roadside, so we dropped off there on our way back.'World of Snakes' is a small zoo featuring mainly snakes, but also crocodiles, amphibians and lizards. But their main business is breeding them, for export but also with an eye on...

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  • The Rock Bridge near Grecia

    True, it is not as big as the Natural Bridge in the State of Virginia, but the Puente de Piedra (rock bridge) of Costa Rica comes with a legend. It is supposed to have been built by the devil himself. Details of the story may differ, but all versions agree that the Tico farmer outwitted the devil. He sold his soul for a bridge to his land, on...

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Alajuela Hotels

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Alajuela Restaurants

  • Chain of chicken

    Chain of restaurants offering a wide variety of roasted chicken options and local plates. On the menu, you could find patacones, tortillas de mais, elotes, frijolitos molidos, yuca frita, ... Clean, colorful, thoughful and inviting concept, it's a good way of having an inexpensive and tasty meal. They also have "express" counters and delivery...

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  • Best Fish I Had in Costa Rica

    The second floor resturant is located near the catheral and park in Alajuela and has a small open balcony. It has a nice laid back atmosphere with good food and service. Nothing fancy, but it has a very local feel. There is also a guitar player there in the evenings. A nice inxpensive place to vist for either diner of drinks. The sea bass and...

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  • Best Mexican food in the Central Valley

    Located east of the Central Park in Alajuela. We had a great taco lunch compete with guacamole, rice and beans ($4.50). Good tacos

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  • Soda with a view

    Straight in front of the Zoo Ave, the Soda Mariel offers a generous menu and an open view on the rich neighborhood. The service is nice and friendly. Appetizers of Ceviche and Heart of palms salad. Very local! Main course of grilled fish filets. And weird delicious desert of "ayote miel" (I'm not sure of the spelling, I'm not even sure what it is,...

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  • Real nice little Soda

    Our guide recommended we stop there while visiting the Poas volcano and the area. Not sure yet if Freddo isn't his brother of cousin, but we didn't regret our choice.The staff is very friendly (when I asked if there was a pharmacy near by to buy contact lense solution, because my eye was killing me, they called right away to find out... to finish...

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  • The food was fabulous and the view was...

    The restaurant was located in this really friendly village just 10 minutes from the airport. The flowers, the local culture, the little church and elementary school all added to the ambiance. The restaurant is on the way to the Poa Volcano. Great Food!! The salad and the pizza!!! They grow their own arugula and spring mix in their garden behind...

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Alajuela Transportation

  • A-1 Rent A Car

    Car rental in Costa Rica is not cheap. We rented is small 4WD jeep from A-1 Rent A Car for two weeks and it cost us USD 648 (day rate USD 54. two days free) and drove it as far as Bijagua, Jacó and Limón.A-1 is the only car rental in downtown Alajuela and their prices are competitive. Others (Alamo, Hertz) are on highway 3 near the airport.The...

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  • Tricolor car rental - can't be beat!

    If you are renting a car for your Costa Rican vacation rent from Tricolor rental!At our hotel while we were eating breakfast, Christopher from Tricolor rental arrived with our 4x4. He told us that he was in no hurry and for us to finish our breakfast while he started on the paperwork. Christopher was quite a character making lots of jokes and...

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  • local bus

    I took the Jaco to San Jose bus which stopped of a the airport. From the airport there are buses departing to Alajuela every 5 minutes. They arrive at the bus terminal which is four blocks west of the city centre parque/mercado.

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Alajuela Shopping

  • Locally produced wine

    We like a single glass of wine as a night cap. So when we saw the announcement 'wine for sale' on a private house, we rang the bell. Yes, they sell wine from Garita for CRC 2,500 a bottle. If you happen to pass through Garita town on road #3, you can by the same wine on the roadside for slightly less. There is red, white and rosé, dry and sweet.

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  • Souvenir Depot

    It's the last day of your trip and you want to pack up on gifts for familly and friends (a little for yourself too), head for the turtle Depot in Alajuela. A big big big store filled to the top with gifts for everyone: hats, t-shirts, jewels, paintings, sculptures, mirrors, furnitures, kitchen utensiles, cofee, candy, papers, pens, books, crafts. I...

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  • Alajuela Hotels

    44 Hotels in Alajuela

    120 Reviews and Opinions

Alajuela Local Customs

  • Suzanne123's Profile Photo

    by Suzanne123 Updated Mar 18, 2005

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Nothing noteable here. there is a lovely square in the centre of town and i think it is the only thing worth seeing. I missed being there when the mercado (market) was open. There are couple of supermarkets (pali) south and west (a few blocks) to the centre of town. The people here are more afluent than other cities in the country. You will see that they have pets and the women will have shorter hair styles. I felt fairly safe walking around.

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Alajuela Warnings and Dangers

  • Villas Colbria

    DO NOT STAY HERE!!!!! I had a reservation and a airport pick up- they did not show up to pick me up and after a 14 dollar cab ride they tell me they have given my room away!!@! unaccepatable. DO NOT STAY HERE you porobaly wont have a room when you get there

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  • Ice cream scam

    We knew about it and still got caught. You read about this kind of scam and you are sure you would never got caught, that this plan is so stupid it would never work.Well, it does. You're in vacation, you're elax, you're happy to meet friendly local peoples... And then a little man comes around with tissue paper and warn you you are dirty in the...

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Alajuela Tourist Traps

  • Expeditiones Tropicales

    This is the name of a Tour organiser in the san Jose/Alajuela area. They'll sell you local tours like Grecia, Sarchi, Poas or Irazu volcano, or longer expeditions in Tortuguero, Arenal volcano or tarcoles river. We found them in our hotel, almost as a "no name" tour. We bought an Irazu tour, the small one not including the Lancaster Gardens and...

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  • La Paz Waterfall Gardens - Crowded and...

    We wanted to make the best of our last day in Costa Rica, but had to stay in the Poas Volcano / Alajuela area. A very friendly clerc at our hotel recommended that we go to La Paz: waterfalls, hummingbird garden, butterfly garden, orchids house... Yes, it was all that, but it seemed so fake and upthight after all we saw during our trip. The...

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Alajuela What to Pack

  • DickDavis's Profile Photo

    by DickDavis Written Aug 4, 2008

    Luggage and bags: The suitcase with the built-in wheels that fits in the airplane luggage rack is the only way for me... and the rest of my family too! It's difficult to think why anyone would carry more, especially when on vacation. Over the years I have managed to complete the "ready-to-go" suitcase, complete with a spare set of everything packed and just waiting for a month in Asia, a weekend camping or an overnight trip on business.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: When going by air, change into clothing suitable for your destination and leave the useless clothes behind. Then bring a second pair of everything in your suitcase. Shoes (for business) or sneakers for vacation plus sandals for footwear. Extra underwear and socks (except you can wash them easily in the hotel sink and dry in the shower), shorts that you can swim in. Polyester shirt (dries quickly), rolled up sweater,

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Shaving kit - old pair of eye glasses. Most things you can easily purchase on vacation so relax!!

    Photo Equipment: Digital camera - maybe an extra memory card and batteries. Burn them to a DVD at an internet cafe if you are afraid of losing your camera.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Towel that rolls up tight and that you do not care if you lose it. Piece of rope with plastic clothes pins for drying clothes indoors or out.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Budget Travel

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Alajuela Off The Beaten Path

  • Alajuela horse parade

    When we returned home to Alajuela on March18th, we found traffic blocked. This was the day of the yearly horse parade (cabalgata). So here are a few pics of this event. It seems everyone in the Central Valley who owns a horse comes to Alajuela to show it off.

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  • Zoo Ave

    This zoo is a rescue center for injured and confiscated wildlife. The fantastic bird collection (the largest in Central America) includes dozens of toucans, cranes, curassows, and parrots. Zoo Ave is one of only two zoos in the world to display the quetzal. Macaws fly free. You’ll also see crocodile, deer, turtles, ostrich, tapirs, peccaries,...

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  • Alajuela Hotels

    44 Hotels in Alajuela

    120 Reviews and Opinions

Alajuela Favorites

  • theo1006's Profile Photo
    Front of the Five Colones note 2 more images

    by theo1006 Updated Aug 8, 2012

    Favorite thing: While we stayed at the 1915 Hotel in Alajuela we brought our laundry to a little shop a few blocks from the hotel. The shopkeeper, being a collector, had a small display of banknotes on his counter.

    Fondest memory: As we admired these, we started talking and gave him some notes from Indonesia, Suriname and Trinidad Tobago, that we happened still to have with us. He was so happy with these that he gave us in return a five colones bill of 1990, which he said was “the most beautiful banknote” in the world.
    We cannot confirm this, as we have not seen all the banknotes in the world. But this Cinco Colones note certainly is a fine one. One face bears a portrait of Rafael Yglesias Castro, who served as president of Costa Rica from 1894 to 1902, and a pair of Costa Rica's national flowers - the orchid Guaria Morada. The other face shows a print of the famous allegorical mural in the National Theater. This “Allegory of Coffee and Bananas” was painted by the Italian J. Villa (or Aleandro Villa?) and depicts the loading of coffee and bananas in the port of Limón. It is a interesting painting although mr Villa did not quite know his subject, because coffee does not grow at sea level and the man in the centre has an awkward way of carrying a bunch of bananas.
    We had not figured out all this at the time, otherwise we would have gone to see the interior of the Theatre, which we now only saw in passing by.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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Explore Deeper into Alajuela
Juan Santamaría Museum of Cultural History
Things to Do
Ecoscape Nature Tour
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La Paz Waterfall Gardens
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Swim at the Ojo de Agua
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Tabacon Hot Springs
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The Mall
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Zoo Ave
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Irazu Volcano
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If you aren't lucky...
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Poas Volcano
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Map of Alajuela

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